Spot and the connectivity of wilderness

We want to be in some place not flooded with the sounds of machines and bathed in fluorescent light, unburdened by the need to respond to emails or texts. We romanticize about it. In fact, we created a whole movement [named accordingly] of art and literature for the very purpose of explicating these desires.

We work hard to get there; scraping together enough money to put life on autopilot for a few days or weeks so we can go have some alone time. But once there, more often than not, we’ve brought phones (computers), electronic music playing devices, GPS mapping units, and we search inexorably for those precious places where we can find the light and the #lightbro. We want desperately to venture out into the wild, but we only hop from one Verizon island to another, afraid [or unable] to really let go.

There is one device among the sea of silicon that has real romantic utility. It acts as a tether of social-connectivity, allowing us to step outside the capsule of the modern world. We may never escape (how would anyone know if we had?), but this device can help us go farther than ever before.

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[Enter the Spot]

The Spot Gen3 beacon is about the size of a flattened nectarine, runs (for about a week, YMMV) on 4AAA[Energizer™ Lithium Ultimate™] batteries and has very few functions, it: pinpoints your location anywhere on the globe (polar regions excluded), and transmits that up to space[!] where it is then sent back down to earthly servers and shared with the Internet of your choosing; has the capability of signalling local S&R teams with your exact location (turning them into just R teams I guess); has three ‘user-definable’ buttons that allow customized [pre-programmed] messages to be sent to multiple recipients (either as texts or emails) as the user might see fit; and, this is the most important feature, it doesn’t receive anything.

Spot has created the perfect millennial escape device, you can go wherever you want, say “look at me world” and not listen to what they say in response.

The utility of a device like this cannot be understated. It doesn’t tell me where I am; it tells everyone else where I am. Anyone who sees a GPS device that doesn’t tell you where you are as pointless, completely misunderstands the purpose of the Spot. It’s not a gadget for me. Sure, I carry it. But it’s a tag, so Houston can feel better about a poor monkey being all the way up in space. It allows everyone to see that I’m OK [or not], without taking away from whatever it is I’m currently experiencing. That ability to let people still in the real world satisfy their need to be uninterruptibly in contact with everyone else is the real value here.  I could plan to leave home with nothing but a pair of socks and my Spot, wander off into wilderness, miles from anything, completely unprepared for what is out there (the way it should be), and there’s a better-than-not chance I’ll get clearance from the Brass for these maneuvers.

“For less than the daily cost of helping some b-celebrity feed a starving child in Africa, you can purchase the sort of peace of mind for your loved ones that allows you to go do stupid shit in the woods.”

I spent years in a former life pleading for the ability to go outside and do stupid stuff, only to be shot down with safety concerns, fears of the unknown. It’s the unknown I’m after! Along comes this widget, this little blinky box that lets me go get all unknown and everyone back at base can feel they are totally in the know.


[The Price of Freedom]

For those who might not be ready to buy-in to that sort of freedom, there are sites like Trackleaders that will rent you a beacon, and even set up your own temporary page on their site to track your journey. The annual cost to own one is less than $0.50/day (with the annual package). Most people would probably break it down into cost per used day (which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do), making the justification a little more difficult (if cost is a concern), although they do have monthly a la carte plans. But the ultimate question is: how much would you pay to be able to go have the sorts of adventures you dream about?